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IFJ condemns crackdown against media

(IFJ/IFEX) 26 June 2009 - The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today called on the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and the Hamas government in the Gaza strip to release Palestinian journalists who have been arbitrarily detained by their respective security forces.

"We condemn this latest crackdown against journalists in Palestine," said Paco Audije, IFJ Deputy General Secretary. "Our colleagues must not be pawns in the war between the two rival Palestinian organisations."

According to reports, security forces in the West Bank are holding a number of journalists in different West Bank detention centres while another journalist was recently arrested by Hamas security forces after they had searched his home and confiscated his computer and communication material.

There are 7 journalists detained by the Palestinian Authority, namely Qays Abu Samrah, Sarie Samour, Mostapha Sabri, Mourad Abuelbaha, Younes Hasasnah, Basam Alsayeh and Iyad Sorour. Sari Qudwah, editor of Alsabah newspaper's website was also arrested on 23 June at his home by security forces of the Hamas government in Gaza.

These arrests are the result of the on-going war of words between the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and the Hamas Government in Gaza. The two sides seek to manipulate the media and accuse independent journalists as siding with the rival group.

"Journalists in Palestine are victims of ruthless attempts to control and use media for propaganda purposes," added Audije. "This exposes media to heightened risks and puts our colleagues under intolerable pressure."

In response to the extraordinary challenges facing Palestinian media, the IFJ will soon launch a dialogue within Palestinian media community for ethical journalism and editorial independence. It will support and promote the creation of a culture of independence, humanity and solidarity in media through the exercise of ethical journalism.

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